AASL Best Websites 2016

Category: Content Resources

Description of Category - Content Resources Websites

This category's winning websites align substantially with one content area, although it may have underlying cross-curricular connections. They contain high quality content, specialized educational features and supports, attractive and user-friendly interfaces, and are completely or substantially free.


Actively Learn

Actively Learn (http://www.activelylearn.com/) is an online platform that allows students and teachers to interact with text. While there is a premium edition, most teachers find that the free version provides more than enough content and features. Over 3500 works are already included, delineated as ELA, social studies, science, math or current events. In addition, teachers may upload content of their choosing.

Teachers are able select the content, distribute it to students through a class code, and later assign a grade. Questions, notes, ways to collaborate with others, text-to-speech, articles at different lexile levels, translation, and grading options add to the features currently available.


•Actively Learn integrates nicely with Google Classroom and Edmodo.

•It is easy to create classroom and district collections, which may be shared among teachers.

•Upload current event articles and create questions of any type. Teachers can require that questions are answered before proceeding.

•Some selections have questions already included; you may use those or create your own.

•Many public domain works are already included; you may add any others and your own questions.

•Although designated as grades 6-12, upper elementary teachers could make use of the site for advanced readers.

Epic! for Educators

Epic! for Educators (https://www.getepic.com/educators), a subscription ebook service targeting elementary readers, is just that-- epic. Thousands of books from major publishers are available through free educator accounts available to all American and Canadian elementary librarians and teachers.

Epic! is full of features like read-aloud, customized reader advisory, ad-free environment, and reading logs. Free educator accounts (available to American and Canadian elementary teachers and librarians) include up to 36 associated free student profiles. Even better, multiple simultaneous student users are allowed! While free school-based access via the educator account is a tremendous resource, it's worth noting that adult parents/guardians must have their own paid student accounts for home access.

  • Incorporate Epic! ebooks into resources for inquiry projects.
  • Divide your classes into groups for checkout. Students who aren't actively checking out books can be reading Epic! ebooks.
  • Project Epic! ebooks for read-aloud so that everyone can clearly view the text and/or illustrations.
  • Use Epic! ebooks for multiple students to access the same text simultaneously for shared reading experiences.

Go Noodle

Go Noodle (https://www.gonoodle.com/) is a site with imaginative games, videos, brain breaks, and activities to increase both the amount of movement and brain engagement in the classroom. Activities are readily searchable by such types as stretching, calming, dancing, and sports. While there are premium accounts available, the free account provides a multitude of activities.


•Project Go Noodle on a whiteboard for the entire class to follow along.

•You can also select brain-based activities that are aligned with ELA or math standards.

•While most activities are five minutes or less, there are longer ones ideal for indoor recess.

•You can add your own activity in the youtube channel, and create a list of favorites for easy access.

•Check out this smore from some tech trainers in Texas for more tips.

Tween Tribune

Tween Tribune (http://tweentribune.com) hosts high interest, reputable current events articles for K-12 audiences compiled by the Smithsonian. The articles are categorized by grade, lexile, language (English/Spanish), and subject area. Each article is available across multiple lexiles for differentiation and has an associated comprehension assessment.

Free educator accounts offer a plethora of features: Monday morning newsletters, class and student profiles, lesson plans, article assignment capability, and assessment score grade books. Student privacy is protected, and all comments are educator-moderated.

Student-appropriate advertisements are present on the site. Don't let their presence stop you from taking advantage of this incredible resource. Instead, turn this unfortunate drawback into a media literacy learning opportunity.

  • Compare bias/viewpoints from varying sources.
  • Use articles to support or inspire inquiry.
  • Use articles for leveled readings on a class-wide topic.
  • Use the site as a station in an current events lesson or in stations highlighting literary styles.

Zoom In

Zoom In (http://zoomin.edc.org/) provides more than just history content; after students work with primary documents and questioning, it provides writing support at two different levels. There are extensive teacher supports, including a youtube channel demonstrating different uses and steps to prepare. Teachers can create a class, and use a code to distribute one of eighteen different units to students. There is scaffolding for them to determine author's point of view, analyze and collect evidence, organize research, and write explanatory or argumentative essays. Assessment begins at the draft level, so that teachers may regroup or reteach needed processes as needed.


•Zoom In units can be used in their entirety, or to supplement existing curriculum/materials.

•The site provides a student log in so that you can take a test drive to explore the process.

•The 18 different units include US History by thematic periods. You may preview the documents before you sign up for an account.

•The organization of materials lends itself to independent study, small group, or class discussion.

About Us

Susie Highley

Susie Highley is a middle level school media specialist from Indiana. She is a past president of the Association of Indiana School Library Educators (AISLE) and current president of the Indiana Middle Level Education Association (IMLEA). Prior to becoming a librarian, she taught science for over twenty years.

Creston Middle School/Intermediate Academy

10925 E. Prospect

Indianapolis, IN 46239

Lauren Mabry

Lauren is a member of the 2016 AASL Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee and an ALA Spectrum Scholar. She has worn quite a few hats an educator: elementary teacher, elementary and middle school librarian, and professional and digital resources librarian. This fall, she will begin a new position as Co-Librarian at the United World College - USA. Her passions as a school librarian include melding information literacy with the sciences, and using major movies as springboards for curricular inquiry and instruction.